How SIPs work

Structural insulated panels or SIPs are an innovative solution in thermal insulation of buildings. They have become popular as they provide more efficient and more uniform insulation than many traditional materials, while simultaneously being much faster to build.

Where Can SIPs be Used?

SIPs can only be integrated into the surfaces during the building process. They are generally not used in the renovation of existing structures, as they need to be built into unfished and open surfaces.

SIPs are very versatile and can be built into walls, floors, and ceilings. They are not a DIY material but are installed by professional construction workers.

Structure of SIPs

SIPs are multi-component insulation materials that resemble a sandwich, in which a plastic composite core is covered on both sides by metal, wood, or cement. Most commonly the core is fabricated of expanded polystyrene or EPS. However, extruded polystyrene or XPS and rigid polyurethane foam can also be used. The core is usually sandwiched between two layers of oriented strand board or OSB.

This structure gives SIPs higher R-value and an efficiency to weight ratio in comparison to most other materials. The finished insulation will usually not exceed 10 to 20 centimetres in thickness.

The structure of SIPs is very efficient, but it requires much care and experience to fabricate correctly. This implies usually higher production costs than other insulation materials.

How to Install SIPs

SIPs are factory-made and shipped directly to the construction sites. The contractors assemble the SIP foam boards on site and integrate them to the walls, floors or ceiling. It is often possible to have the SIPS custom manufactured for a specific project, so the contractor can only assemble the pre-cut materials. While SIPs are somewhat expensive compared to other materials, their extreme ease of installation reduces their overall cost, as the contractor will finish insulation much faster and will require less staff for the construction.